Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's GENIUS!!!!

  • More creative math and talent recognition from Billy Beane:

Um. Okay.

Let's see if I understand this correctly.

The Athletics traded Aaron Miles and a player to be named later to the Reds for Willy Taveras and Adam Rosales----then immediately designated Taveras for assignment automatically placing themselves on the hook for the difference between the contracts of Miles and Taveras ($1.3 million now and $900,000 when someone picks Taveras up); and all of this was so the A's could get their hands on Rosales. Rosales, about to turn 27, is yet another mediocre/backup infielder; and the A's certainly don't have enough of those.

Rosales has some pop (he's hit as many as 18 homers in the minors); some speed and extra base hit potential; and he's gotten on base at a good clip in the minors; but is he someone who was worth the extra money the Athletics are paying to acquire him and Taveras and to dump Taveras immediately? They couldn't find a similar player to a career minor leaguer like Rosales who couldn't crack the moderately weak Reds lineup, especially as a shortstop, where the Reds had a gaping hole?

Last week, when the A's traded for Taveras, I was prepared to unleash on Beane (again) for another bizarre betrayal of the Moneyball tenets he so avidly advocated in the fantasy tale. Prepared as I was to suggest another new innovation such as eliminating an infield position to place Taveras in right center and Coco Crisp in left center to prevent any hits at all, I was still under the impression that there was a reason for the deal. Trading for and releasing a player to take his salary requires an endgame; but was Adam Rosales that endgame?

It's not as if he's 22; he's going to be 27. Is there truly an expectation that he's going to be more than what he is and what he's been in his career? Could Rosales be a useful player? More useful than Aaron Miles? Miles is a journeyman utility player who was horrific last season. Of course Rosales could be of more use. Miles is what he is as a big league player by now; but the days of Beane simply doing whatever he wants and receiving the pass of, "well, he must know what he's doing" are over.

It's time to look at what he does with the same scrutiny that GMs who don't have the accolades and supposed brilliance that Beane does; and this deal is the latest in the long line of confusing decisions he's made.

  • The Mets lower the center field wall at Citi Field:

The Mets are lowering the height of the center field wall at Citi Field from 16 feet to 8 feet. As much as the club claims that it's more cosmetic than anything else (they want people to be able to see the red apple when it pops up after a Mets home run), obviously this was done to help David Wright regain some of his lost power.

I can still see the look on Wright's face from a game last season as he hit a rocket toward center field that would've been a homer just about anywhere else and pursed his lips with a slight twitch of disgust as he cruised into second base with a double. Wright's power base is right and right center and if the Mets can lower the fences to help him hit a few more homers and feel more comfortable in his home park, so much the better.

  • Viewer Mail 2.10.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE a salary cap:

The salary cap discussion continues to intrigue me. Yes, the Yankees have the most money. But aren't the Twins a so-called small market team? And don't they find a way to compete every single year?

The Twins are a middle market team by choice. Their ownership is far richer than the Steinbrenners; but they allocate a certain amount of money for the baseball team and that's it; the team management has to work within those parameters. The money excuse is and always will be used to come up with a justification for losing. The Twins and Marlins have proven that winning is possible while spending a reasonable amount of money.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Twins:

The Twins' payroll is at $96 million for 2010...AND COUNTING. How is that small market?

"No salary cap is going to cure stupidity...

Exactly. For those who do not believe, please see Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, KC Chiefs, etc.

They all sucked and they've sucked for a looooooooooong time.

Believe me when I tell you, even if there was a salary cap, the teams with inept people running them will still be in their current positions. Everything begins and ends with competent or incompetent management. Period.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE a salary cap:

There are always exceptions to this. Why does everyone keep mentioning those exceptions? Even with a salary cap, there will be teams that are bad year in and year out because they suck at evaluating. The Lions, for example. But if the Royals had $200 million to spend wouldn't they have a much, much better team than they do now? The answer is an obvious, YES! They could cover up mistakes and afford better players. Plus, the older I have gotten, the more I DO realize that the playoffs aren't really a great indicator of who the best team actually was. Meaning that we cannot really correlate World Series winners with parity, as much as we can correlate playoff appearances.

So, it's an "exception" when teams with lower payrolls contend and/or make the playoffs, but it's not an exception when the Yankees or Red Sox win their titles with their bloated payrolls? Logic would dictate that if money was the final factor, then the Yankees and Red Sox would be in the World Series every year without exception regardless of variables.

Even if a team like the Royals had access to that kind of money to spend on players, who's to say they'd actually do it? As I said earlier, the Twins have the money to have at least as massive a payroll as the Yankees and Red Sox, but they don't because of the way they run things.

Define the "best" team. Are you speaking statistically? Or is it the team that forms a cohesive unit as more than a sum of their statistical parts and gets performances from their players where other teams see their stars falter? A salary cap is not going to change reality of stupidity and clutch play.

For those that diminish clutch play, take a look at the likes of Mariano Rivera; Derek Jeter; John Smoltz; Josh Beckett; Jim Leyritz and Lenny Dykstra. It takes more than being the "best" to succeed in the playoffs and there's no way to quantify it by salary, numbers or whatever; performance is the decisive factor. The above-mentioned players have performed when it's counted.


Gabriel said...

Stupidity won't be cured by parity, granted, but maybe by restructuring the way the contracts are made the teams would have a better chance of keeping a franchise player (see Lincecum, Tim) and competing more often. It always comes to how big a deal Pujols and Mauer are going to get, and how big a hometown discount they're going to give, instead of focusing in the holes. Big contracts are detrimental to the organizations (see Wells, Vernon), and I think limiting them would give the teams more room to correct their mistakes and rebuild faster.

She-Fan said...

David Wright must be salivating at the thought of the stadium's new CF wall. The pitchers? Not so much.

Joe said...

"Logic would dictate that if money was the final factor, then the Yankees and Red Sox would be in the World Series every year without exception regardless of variables."

No, it would have them in the playoffs every year. The Yankees missed the playoffs once this decade. The Red Sox made it more often than they didn't.

And doesn't the Twins payroll somewhat reflect what they actually make from *baseball?* Why should they have to invest money from other things back into their team when the Yankees and Red Sox make way more money from actually selling tickets and all that good stuff?

As far as clutch? ARod wasn't clutch at all in the playoffs, seemingly, until this season. Then all of a sudden he tears it up. No one builds there team around the perception that a guy is "clutch." That would be stupid.